Praise for RDI investments, but funding allocation raises concern – FUURT views on spending limits session decisions

The commitment of Petteri Orpo’s Government to RDI investments deserves praise, but funding allocation raises the concerns of FUURT. Raising the education level and strengthening research intensity require more core funding for higher education, multidisciplinary basic research, and care for the entire education chain.

It is good that the Government has decided to commit to increasing the funding for RDI activities in accordance with the national objectives in this difficult economic situation, but attention must be paid to the allocation of the funding. R&D investments cannot be made in a manner that limits the research field. Even research that has no immediate commercial applications is important in terms of the impacts of RDI activities. FUURT points out that the financing instruments of the Academy of Finland and Business Finland do not cover all areas and there are blind spots for which funding cannot be applied through these instruments.

“R&D funding should be allocated to strengthening research work and improving co-operation between sectors. The objective must be an increase in research intensity and the employment of doctors in a variety of sectors – in companies as well. The steering of the R&D funding channelled through Business Finland must be ensured so that the investments are allocated to research work in the most impactful manner”, states Tero Karjalainen, President of the Finnish Union of University Researchers and Teachers.

The Government says that it will define a schedule and structures for monitoring the impact of R&D funding. FUURT notes that the monitoring must take into account that the impact of science is of a long-term nature and that innovations are built on strong basic research.

Continuity for research careers by investing also in post-dissertation research

The Government’s previous actions have included significant investments in doctoral education, and the number of new doctoral graduates should rise in the coming years. FUURT considers it important that, in terms of R&D experts, the next investment is in the post-doc career stage. International experience tells us that the post-doc research phase is a particularly challenging one for research careers due to fragmented funding. It is, therefore, a welcome addition that the employment of new doctoral graduates is supported by providing funding for 85 post-doc research positions in State research institutes. The funding and career views of post-doc researchers should be supported by other RDI funding decisions as well. What is most pressing is support for the transition of researchers with foreign backgrounds into the employ of Finnish business.

Level of education cannot be raised by compromising the quality of education

The Ministry of Education and Culture’s media release states that the Government will begin preparations for a measures programme to raise the level of education. Unfortunately, the planning of the measures programme currently only seems to include measures that limit education possibilities.

“It is understandable that the Government wants to avoid education accumulation and favour those that do not yet have a higher education degree. At the same time, incentives must be created for universities to facilitate students’ career changes and to ease transferring from one field and university to another”, Karjalainen notes.

The need for guidance and other support measures during studies will increase as young people from increasingly varied backgrounds enter higher education institutions. This requires investments in the core funding for higher education institutions, especially if the intent is to increase the available student places at higher education institutions. The level of education cannot be raised by compromising the quality of education. Unfortunately, the decisions of the spending limits session mean that the Government will continue to cut the social security of students. Students’ growing concerns about livelihood and wellbeing impact the entire higher education community and do not support the completion of their studies. The personnel of higher education institutions are very concerned about the students’ situation.

Take a look at Akava’s views on the results of the spending limits session (in Finnish).


Further information:

Tero Karjalainen, President of the Union

Nina Hahtela, Acting Executive Director

The email addresses of both are in the format firstname.lastname(a)